John Ruskin (1819-1900) was one of the most ambitious and
impassioned English social reformers of the 19th century. He
was also - at first sight - a deeply improbable reformer,
because he seemed to care mostly about one thing - beauty -
No one, probably, has ever much doubted that these things
are nice. Clouds, trees and streams represent nature in its
most gentle, tranquil guise. Their appeal is instinctive.
But we take them for granted. They form a pleasant
background to other things: out of...
Whenever something looks interesting or beautiful, there’s
a natural impulse to want to capture and preserve it –
which means, in this day and age, that we’re likely to
reach for our phones to take a picture.
Though this would seem to be an...
Early in the morning one day in spring I had one of
those small but extraordinary experiences that is hard to
forget. I came downstairs with my young daughter to find a
brilliant pool of light on our kitchen ceiling. At first we
‘The obvious is usually profoundly significant.’
(Edward O. Wilson)
What does it mean to feel a connection with nature? It means
gaining an insight into the most important network there
ever has been and ever will be. It means becoming aware of
our relationship with...
Meet Chad. Chad is a personal trainer, from the Coen
brothers’ film Burn After Reading. He is a fictional
character, but we recognize him immediately: muscular,
handsome, full of energy and positive thinking – and as
dumb as a sack of small stones.
We are fooled by a scientific education if we believe that
the accumulation knowledge brings us ever closer to the
world around us. It is not knowledge that counts, when we
are talking about direct and immediate human experience, it
“There is a...
Picture yourself enjoying a meal outside an auberge in the
Provençal countryside. The fields of lavender roll off into
the distance. French voices murmur around you. You’re
served a beautiful chilled Rosé in a rustic earthenware
carafe. You ask what it is. The owner...
The end of the year is the traditional season to take stock
of your life: what better way than to do so by moonlight,
connected to a much older cycle of time than the one we
usually live by. I did this in...
For those of us who live in an urban setting, moonlight,
starlight and darkness itself are increasingly rare
commodities. What do we lose by living in a man-built
environment of perpetual day? This excerpt reveals the
powerful psychological effect the night sky can have...
The journalist and writer Richard Louv has coined and
popularized an extremely catchy way of diagnosing something
that is going wrong with our technology-rich, time-poor and
ever more urban lives. Starting with ‘Last Child in the
Woods’ in 2005, and followed by ‘The Nature...